Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Caregiving: Cognitive Dysfunction Part 2 of 2

(continued from Cognitive Dysfunction Part 1 of 2)

     Patti’s cognitive impairments like many people with MS affected her first and hardest where it hurts, employment. As an experienced buyer for a paper company she was valued and her employer worked to accommodate her physically. Yet intermittent cognitive symptoms began to impair her ability to do her job. When mistakes occur in tractor-trailer loads of the wrong paper, it is expensive to the bottom line.  She was placed on long term disability within 3 years of her first major MS exacerbation.

     In the double income family of today that changes your world.

    At home cognitive dysfunction can affect so much, including a person’s independence to take their own medications to parenting to the safety of the family. No reason to belabor a litany of incidents, one will do from early in the course of MS.

     Patti was basically able to care for herself (or so we believed.) Our daughter was at Elementary School, and I was at work. A sixth sense pulled me home to check on Patti at lunch time. I walked in to the house to find Patti sitting calmly at the table eating lunch while a fire burned on the stove. Fortunately we had a kitchen fire extinguisher on the wall which I used to put out the fire. Then I hear Patti complain about the smoke while she is trying to eat <grin>. She simply could not process the layers of thinking involved in eating, seeing a fire and what to do about it, much less however she started it while cooking. Had I walked in 10 minutes later I dread to think of the outcome.

     Cognitive dysfunction should not be underestimated and never denied. There are reasons this is one of the “more scary symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis”. More importantly this IS the responsibility of family and friends. You cannot always depend on a guardian angel to bail someone out of an at risk situation.


  1. oh my gosh; that was a scary thing. I always said if I had a "choice" I would want to lose my physical ability rather than my mental ability; its unfair that Patti lost both with this terrible disease.


  2. frightening!  
    So glad you shared this story to illustrate how MS can work.  I have a good friend who has  MS and she has been very forgetful for several years but I don't think she has had any problems of this type.  This disease if truly devestating.

  3. how scary for you all. yes MS is awful but you both are handling it great.


  4. wow--what a frightening story--thankfully you came home in time.

  5. Concern whilst you're awake and concern whilst asleep and even with every precaution taken that concern would still remain.  I'm glad you're inner voice was on top form that day, it must have been such a shock when returning that day. Rache


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